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San Ramon LogoIndians of the San Ramon Valley

This information comes from the Museum of the San Ramon Valley in 2001.

For untold centuries people have lived in the San Ramon Valley.  They built their homes by the creeks, hunted in the valley and worshipped on the Mountain.

The First PeopleGreger Village

Today we call these first people Indians or Native Americans.  While little information remains about the valley Indians' specific culture, they would have had an intimate relationship with the land, a cycle of life which changed very gradually from generation to generation and a tribal organization which owned the rights to hunt, fish, gather and pray within clearly designated territories.

Living in village communities of 50 to 200 people, the rhythm of their lives was determined by one harvest or another.  The Bay Area and the San Ramon Valley provided an enormous variety of foods.  The Indians collected acorns, nuts and seeds, hunted birds, deer and elk, fished and gathered all kinds of plants.  Sometimes large groups met for feasts and dances, including autumn festivals on Mount Diablo. Some people lived along the small streams and springs of the Mt. Diablo foothills either permanently or seasonally.

Sacred Mount Diablo

Mount Diablo was sacred to the valley Native Americans, as it was to other Indians who lived within sight of it.  Many Indian tribes had traditions and creation accounts which featured the Mountain.

Each tribe had its name for the Mountain.  The Costanoan speaking people south of Mount Diablo called it Tuyshtak. Early Spaniards named it Cerro Alto de los Bolbones (High Point of the Volvons) for the tribe which controlled the summit and eastern areas of the Mountain.  The name Mount Diablo (Devil's Thicket in Spanish) originated during a Spanish expedition around 1804.  The superstitious Spanish soldiers called a willow thicket Monte Diablo when a group of Chupcan Indians from today's Concord area escaped from them during the night.  Later the name was transferred to the Mountain.

Choris Indians
Louis Choris, drawings of "Three Bay Area Indians"
Courtesy of the Bancroft Library

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